Rugby Forum
  Volume 1 - Week 21  
Editor's Note
Brilliant!    Welcome to the 21st issue of Rugby Forum, I am proud to present probably the best issue to date and what more fitting an occasion than the week before a Springbok/All Blacks test match. The two archrivals inspire all that is good and hard in the game of rugby and since my early memories of the 1976 and 1981 series the two country’s clashes are the ultimate in rugby rivalry and a highlight not to be missed.
The past weekend the conquering Wallabies created history by beating the Lions, in the process providing the world with one of the best rugby series in years. The standard of rugby was extraordinary high and credit must go to all the players and coaches involved in creating a truly magnificent spectacle. All will agree that the Wallabies deserved to win the deciding test especially after the way they were defeated in the first match. The series proved a few interesting points and they are well worth pondering: 1) The Northern Hemisphere is not behind the Southern Hemisphere in terms of performance or ability, there is a healthy state of competition and the respect and experienced gained from the Lions performance will benefit the home nations tremendously.  2) The referees all performed a magnificent job in “managing” the most tense and high-staked games of their careers. It does not happen very often that there is no complaints directed at the men in the middle, like the players, Watson, Kaplan and O’Brien set the standard on a lofty plato.  3) Individual skills are the catalyst and many times the decider in a closely fought battle, new stars emerged and established reputations were enforced. A man of the series is hard to choose, there were magnificent performances from Wilkinson, Robinson, O’Driscoll, Johnson and Wood for the Lions and Herbert, Smith, Gregan, Eales and Walker for the Ausies.  4) Rugby as a world sport is thriving and this was a triumphant advertisement for a truly magnificent game.
The great Lions series however is now confined to history and legend, the Tri-Nations is on our doorstep and for the first time the Springboks play their first round of matches at home. The effect of home advantage was clearly demonstrated in the corresponding fixture last year, a bruised and battered Springbok team rallied to a magnificent win over a Christian Cullen inspired All Blacks side. Claire Johnstone’s angelic voice contributed to a memorable occasion with the crowd as emotionally charged as the players. The ferocious Haka was met with steely stares from a bunch of determined-looking players; the rest, as they say in the classics is history. I do believe Claire Johnstone will once again lead the way with her special rendition of the national anthems, what is needed again are the steely stares from the starting XV, somehow I think that on the day, they will be there. This match is a difficult one to call however home-ground advantage and pressure coming out of their ears might pip it for the Springboks, the scoreline will not be great, both teams refrained from selecting high percentage place kickers but this match may yet be decided by the boot.
Today’s issue contain an article from new contributor, Desmond Organ and Brian Forsyth is back with an interesting story about rugby touring also visit sarugby, a South African rugby news and discussion group with details below. The reader’s letters are very encouraging and as is the norm, of conflicting opinion, it is however great to see so many people committing fingers to keyboards! Enjoy the first “real” test of the year with all respect to my French friends, colleagues and readers and remember wear your heart on your sleeve!

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The Greatest Rivalry by Mark Foster
The allure of sport has always been one of the most difficult sentiments to fathom. Why do people go through the extraordinary trouble to support total strangers and have almost a lover’s intimate knowledge of each player? The phenomenon is not only unique to sport of course, intellectuals, politicians and holy people attract similar worship yet there is one subtle difference and that is pleasure. People attract to sport because of the ultra fine line between tears of joy and tears of disappointment, the thin line between pleasure and temporary pain because soon afterwards there are only memories and new legends. The fascination with the ultimate team sport, rugby is therefore easy to understand and Saturday is the eternal battle for supremacy in rugby history; the All Blacks vs the Springboks. There is no greater rivalry.
The 57th test match between history’s superpowers has been labeled as crucial, even instrumental to the future of both countries in their quest to wrest initiative from the Australians. Both teams have somewhat under performed over the last two seasons if compared to their illustrious past. One common thread for both teams is that this match, the green and gold against the blacks is regarded as the ultimate test of rugbymanship for representing players. The ultimate All Black Colin Meads, never won a series in South Africa, the Springboks after the glory of 1937 has never again won a series in New Zealand. One can understand why Sean Fitzpatrick has secured a permanent place in All Black lore as a winning captain in a series in South Africa, this feat rank by his own admission as his greatest achievement as an All Black. With a history filled with pride and honour, a spectator can only but imagine the pressure and weight of tradition resting upon the respective teams this Saturday.
The long awaited kick off to the 2001 Tri-Nations is a clash between two teams not dissimilar in make-up but contrasting in execution. The All Blacks would like to move the ball wide as often as they can after structured forward driving and rucking, watch out for the likes of Oliver and Maxwell who use their strength and ball skills to break the line. The obvious strength is a backline consisting of world-class players in Tana Umaga, Jeff Wilson and Jonah Lomu superbly marshaled by Tony Brown. The Springbok’s nemesis in recent years, Chritian Cullen is unavailable due to injury, a heartening situation for the Springboks. The various pundits predict that the Springboks might attack what is believed to be a vulnerable tight five however after both sides received some rough treatment from the French it is difficult to assess the true strength of both packs, one thing is for sure there has hardly ever been a weak All Black scrum.
The Springboks, to be quite honest have done a superb job in concealing their gameplan during the opening tests and few but the coaches and players really know what to expect. The idea however is to assume control up front and with inventive running lines and the creative force of Skinstad create opportunities out wide for explosive backs like Fleck, Paulse and Hall. The Springboks might do well to take a leaf from the Lions book in the way they performed in the first test at the Gabba, where everybody believed there will be a total forward onslaught, the backline ran rings around their more fancied counterparts. Tony Brown, a superb runner and distributor has shown a propensity to fail under severe pressure and the Sharks amongst the Springboks will love to exert the same kind of pressure that rattled him in Durban this year.
The game is difficult to call and as a firm believer of hindsight and the safety of history this will be a close contest as most matches between the countries are. The weather, with storms lashing in Cape Town during midweek will of course play a tremendous role in the week’s preparation and on the day. The most exciting feature however is the prospect of watching two great teams compete for something that money cannot buy… pride and honour.

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"Blood 'n Guts" by Tom Marcellus
When I was but knee-high to a grasshopper, back in the early '70's, we were continually reminded of the apparent fragility of our existence.  The Cold War was flourishing, and we were often reminded to be on the look-out for evil Ruskies with unpronounceable names, intent on the downfall of Western civilisation.  The threat of a nuclear holocaust seemed to loom large, even in my stunted conscience, and often, at primary school, we would be subjected to educational films that were filled with exhilaratingly grisly footage, shown on a sheet in the school hall, of decent Americans and their rickety homes being mock-obliterated by nuclear explosions.  Invariably there would be a snippet about some toothless hillbilly from Backwater, Oklahoma, as he proudly showed off his backyard bunker, with its larder stocked with pilchards, powdered milk and bogroll, to the prying eyes of the camera.
It most definitely is a long way from some 1950's dusty Midwestern farm, to the sleek and sexy Cape Town of the 3rd millenium.  The city is surely the Riviera of Africa, with its glorious summer weather, ancient wine farms and whitewalled houses - not to mention all those shapely lasses cavorting on Clifton beach.  In any event, a vague comparison between the two destinations, separated in both place and time, is hopefully not so spurious, as the Bokke and their fans prepare to do battle with the eternal foe.
The Men in Black, those menacing brutes from across the seas, are preparing to launch their onslaught against Bob & his merry band, and it is at times like these, when the country - in rugby terms - is under siege, that I look for comfort from my modest collection of rugby books.  In those pages, I am able to gain solace reading about the heroic deeds of players who, when the chips were down, were able to rise to the challenge in trying circumstances.  And, in the whole history of sport, there can be few rivalries more worthy of such amateur study as that between the wearers of the Green 'n Gold and the admirably savage spawn of the silver fern.
This correspondent will be making the pilgrimage from the dusty mine dumps of e-Goli to the spiritual grandeur of Nuweland for this weekend's match.  The Bok squad, despite their efforts to show public support for their new skipper and beleaguered coach, must surely harbour unsettling thoughts about their chances on Saturday.  Let's us hope that they are mindful of the other occasions over the 80-year rivalry between the teams that a down-hearted Bok side has prevailed against the odds.
Like the 3rd test in 1965, when Dawie de Villiers' touring Boks had to face the might of New Zealand on a seven-test losing streak down.  Seemingly uninspired even by the unexpected presence of the Doc himself, the Boks were down 5-16 at half-time (a whopping score in those days), and a record score in favour of the home side seemed on the cards.  Then, a matchless, gritty Gainsford-inspired 2nd half saw the Boks scrape in 16-19 to record an historic victory over an All Black team littered with legendary players.
And what about the lessons of 1970?  A great All Black team brimming with confidence arrived in SA having enjoyed an unprecedented winning streak in international matches (if I'm not mistaken, they had not lost since that epic encounter in 1965).  The first test was played at the citadel of SA rugby, Loftus Versfeld, and in his pre-match team-talk, Dawie de Villiers, pleaded with his troops to "Win this for South Africa".  And win they did.
Possibly the turning point in the entire series came as early as the 7th minute of the first half of that test.  The Kiwi first five-eighth, Wayne Cottrell, received the ball from a set scrum and moved to the blindside.  As Cottrell shifted his weight to pass, the burly, young Free State debutant, Joggie Jansen, hurtled into his midriff in a savage, textbook tackle that left the All Black prostrate on the dry pitch.  The crowd roared  - these All Blacks could be beaten afterall. A home test match against the All Blacks - a match for the rugby connoisseur to savour, and on the tradition-filled Newlands pitch too.
Let us hope that the Class of 2001, inspired by the timeless spirit of Doc Craven, Hennie Muller, Morne du Plessis, and all the other great players who wore the blue and white hoops of Province and the Green 'n Gold of the Bokke with pride, can match the spirit and passion of the ages.

Rugby Touring – Then and Now by Brian Forsyth
   (Copyright © The Author, Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

We hear so much today at International and Super 12 level about the difficulties that touring sides have in winning matches and being away from home for any length of time. Touring however has always been difficult, and whilst there is no doubt that the game has become more intense and more physical since the introduction of professionalism, players of the days of yore also had a hard time of it and perhaps it is the change in attitude that it is now part of the job instead of a time of high adventure. If time would allow us to transpose the players of a hundred years ago with those of today one wonders who would cope better with the changes that have occurred
International rugby tours to this country started one hundred and ten years ago, our visitors, who were from the British Isles, did have an advantage over our players in that they had been playing the game far longer and they had toured elsewhere before coming here to Southern Africa.
What counted in our favour was the quick realisation on the part of our administrators, that a tour of this country was unique, in that we could use the vast distances to be covered, the matches being played at different altitude, the primitive transport facilities and the different playing surfaces all to our advantage. Add to this some truly outstanding hospitality and then allow the natural elements to play a part. The result was a very weary touring party. In 1891, when the first tourists arrived, they had spent sixteen days at sea on board ship with no exercise facilities and in the first week spent in Cape Town they played three games, the first against a town clubs side on Thursday, then two days later a full Western Province side, followed on the Monday against a combined Cape Colony team which consisted of players drawn from the local union, which included what is now known as Boland, Griqualand West and Eastern Province.
Socially, the week in Cape Town was spent by the visitors as guests of honour at a Smoking concert, which in those days was a competition of joke telling, drinking and usually smoking cigars, followed the next evening a formal dinner hosted by the Western Province Rugby Union. The Saturday evening was spent at a Government House Ball sponsored by the Governor and Sunday an all day picnic out at Hout Bay. The Monday after the match a dance was held out at Sea Point. In between the tourists managed a visit to the theatre and lunch aboard a visiting Royal Navy ship.
On the Tuesday morning, after their match against the Cape Colony, the visitors boarded the train to Kimberley, a journey then of two nights and one full day. Conditions on board were not ideal in that there were no compartments or bunks in the carriages nor was there a dining room attached. Having sat upright for the whole trip, the visitors on arrival were treated lavishly for diamond fever was at it’s height and Kimberley was a boomtown fielding a very strong team. Two matches were played on the Saturday and then on the Monday against the provincial side. What surprised the visitors however; who were accustomed to the green playing Fields of England was that the local playing surface was plain red earth covered by a fine reddish dust with not a blade of grass to be seen anywhere. The harsh sun Produced considerable glare and to this must be added the effects of playing at altitude. The tourists lodged a compliant that they frequently lost sight of the ball in play due to pillars of dust that play created.
That evening immediately after the game the tourists were put back on the train to spend another two nights on their way to Port Elizabeth. Here the sight of green grass on the playing fields cheered them up no end for many of the players were suffering from gravel burns and other abrasions incurred at Kimberley, which had festered, in some cases leading to blood poisoning. The hospitality in Port Elizabeth was lavish but the teams greatest adventure was their departure. In those days the only harbours along our coast for passenger steamers were at Cape Town and Durban. At Port Elizabeth, it meant travelling out to sea in a small tug to the waiting ship and then being lifted individually in a large wicker basket up on to the deck. At East London, the next port of call the tour nearly ended in disaster, for the whole team, for they had a narrow escape from drowning. What happened, was that when the time came to leave; a vicious wind was whipping the sea up across the sandbar at the mouth of the Buffalo River. This caused the waiting ship to frequently disappear from view, leaving the skipper of the tugboat, to aim at the lights of the ship when they were visible. Unfortunately he misjudged the distance, for suddenly the bow of the big ship was towering above the small vessel containing the entire British team. Damage was caused when the tugboat was struck near the stern. Had the collision taken place amidships there is little doubt that the tug would have sunk leaving the players little chance of saving themselves. In later years, because of this incident and one, in Algoa Bay when the tugboat, due to very rough seas had to circle the waiting ship twelve times before being in a position to load, the by then violently seasick team members, some players opted to give these venues a wide berth remaining on board ship and sailing on to the next safe harbour.
In Natal, save for the normal hectic social whirl, the visitors had an uneventful time but after their match in Pietermaritzburg they immediately boarded the train that evening to travel up to the Reef. In those days the railhead only extended as far as Charleston, a small trading centre on the Natal/Transvaal border. President Paul Kruger had refused permission for the railway line to continue as he insisted on the railway line from the sea through Mozambique to be completed first. At first light the next morning the team alighted from the train and boarded a stage coach drawn by ten ponies, travelling full eight hours to Standerton where they spent the night, next day making a 05h00 start in the middle of winter, travelling by stage coach all day and reaching Johannesburg after seven in the evening in time for their match the next day. After a brief stay of a week in which they played three matches all on bone dry red earth fields, they set off once more by stagecoach to the railhead at Fourteen Streams. On the way one of the coaches lost a wheel, the players being forced to spend the night sleeping on the mud floor of the only hut for miles around. Woken just after 01h00 to board the relief coach they travelled on to Klerksdorp where they spent the rest of the night, setting off early the next morning in order to board the waiting train to take them to Kimberley, which they reached at midnight in time to play the next afternoon against a full Cape Colony side, which they managed to win by 4 – 0.
On their way down to Cape Town for their final matches of the tour, including the third test, they stopped off at Matjiesfontein where they were royally entertained and played a cricket match against the full Western Province cricket team, only losing by eighteen runs.
The visitors, with a touring party of only twenty one players, no substitutions allowed,  and with a single manager, were to remain unbeaten throughout the twenty match,  two month tour. They played three times a week and scored 89 tries in all which  points to very strong constitutions and abundant stamina. In an article written 40 years after the tour by Paul Clauss, one of their wing threequarters stated “ the team found the tour tiring, and that it was much more difficult for them to score towards the end of the tour then at the beginning, whether it was an improvement of the South African Teams is hard to say, but they had overdone things from a social point of view – too many dinners, dances and smokers. On the whole we made no attempt to keep in strict training, which was well to the good, for it preventing us from becoming stale”. All one can say that it is interesting to reflect on the different perspective that sport was held in those days.
If, as suggested, at the beginning of the article time would allow us to transpose the players over the one hundred and ten years who would adapt better – I must leave you to debate that issue.
SOURCES: 1. History of South African Rugby – Ivor Difford. 2. Rugby in South Africa – Paul Dobson. 3. Springbok Rugby – Chris Greyvenstein. 4. Springbok Annals – Danie Craven.
For more rugby and other sport stories visit BIG BRIANS SPORT STORIES  or contact the author at

There is a twist in the Tail by Desmond Organ
In the 1970's there was a weekly suspense programme on Springbok Radio. It entertained youngsters and adults alike. This was of course prior to the television age in South Africa. The Programme carried the same name as this article and the purpose for choosing such a name is to challenge readers to find the same with South African Rugby selections.
Our erstwhile Minister of Sport has become embroiled in the selection quagmire as many of his peers have done in the past. Too expect anything less would be naïve, yet at this point in time Mr. Balfour has every reason to get involved. The fact that he began his attack form the circles of a sport where there is representation is not surprising.
Our Minister of Sport has followed the same course as his predecessors. He claims that he supports the team in full, that it represents South Africa and of course that there is a hidden agenda behind every respectable journalist in South Africa that disagrees with him, or raises questions as to his true intentions.
The major risk is that he is doing this at a point in time when South African Rugby can ill afford it. The team for Saturday's test will be "Stormers" dominated. The form players of the Super 12 have been ignored and the Minister of Sport has got involved. It is reminiscent of the issues before the test against Wales and the preparation for the trip down under in the Tri Nations of 1999.
The truth of the matter is that the Minister has a point, Deon Kayser should have been in the squad in the first place. Kayser has been ignored and this has served to provide our glorios Minister with a real case, whereas in the past it could be argued that it was political rhetoric.
Added to this is the random selection of players to attend national training when they have not been selected for Super 12 teams. It could be argued that this is because they are being ignored on the basis of a lack of support for transformation. That may be the case for several players but not Deon Kayser. 
Harry and his panel of wise men have also invited inexperienced white players to national training sessions and to occupy the bench in test matches.
The Minister has now got every reason to complain about selections and transformation.  The geniuses involved in selections, technical aspects and communication and planning are really amateurs and have provided a political agenda for the Minister who probably does not care about the team winning at all. He is more interested in maximising his political support and expanding his influence.
The one positive is that Kayser could play on Saturday and this means that we will at least have somebody who can attack, defend and read the game. Had he been selected in the first place we would be singing a different song.

Match Review
Australia 29 - British and Irish Lions 23
The unbelievable Wallabies won an emotion charged final test match over the courageous Lions at Stadium Australia, it was a historic first series win over the men from the British Isles and Ireland. Australia, holder of the World Cup, the Tri Nation and Super 12 champions proved their pedigree by beating the best team from the Northern Hemisphere since the glorious seventies.
The pre-match atmosphere was electric with both teams highly motivated by the whole occasion of a Stadium Australia, filled to capacity with gold and red wearing supporters. The players from both sides rose to the occasion in a fast match played with a seething intensity, mistakes were brutally exposed and punished by Wilkinson and Burke with opportunities at goal. The Lions however dominated the first half position and possession wise and a well-worked try after a Walker knock-on by Jason Robinson swayed the pendulum in their favour. Burke managed to keep the Wallabies in touch with a few penalties.
The Wallabies took the lead in the final few minutes after another mistake, this time a knock-on from Henderson, quick recycling, brilliant vision from Gregan and good hands from Walker opened the tryline for Dan Herbert’s first try. The lead was 16-10 to Australia and the first half ended in a flurry of controlled Lions’ attacks on the Ausie line, they could not penetrate and had to settle with a Wilkinson penalty to trail by 3 at the break. Justin Harrison, in his first test was brilliant he poached numerous of the opposition’s ball and devoid them of crucial possession for the dangerous attackers out wide.
The crucial second 40 minutes was as tense a period of rugby seen anywhere and for any passionate supporter or casual observer the happenings epitomized what test rugby is all about.  First blood went to Johnny Wilkinson who scored after some weak defence from Kefu, the Lions were back in the lead. What followed was a period where both teams tried to dominate by continuous phase play, the Lions with their mauling and the Wallabies with their excellent continuity. Daniel Herbert scored his second after Harrison once again towered in the lineout, Gregan’s excellent distribution created an extra split second to ensure the overlap. Burke converted from an acute angle and the Wallabies lead 23 – 20.
A potential match losing tackle from Dan Herbert barely two minutes after his try cost his side 3 points and his absence for 10 minutes. What followed was one of the most committed displays from 14 men witnessed this year, awesome defence and tactical kicking kept the Lions at bay for the entire time Herbert was “resting”. George Smith was instrumental in creating turnovers at the breakdown and his ability to wrestle the ball away from the opposition going to ground is phenomenal, he turned only 21 on the day. Wilkinson’s misses did not help the Lion’s cause and the Australians carefully played for time until Herbert’s return.
The final quarter of this enthralling contest produced an unbelievable amount of turnovers and the Ausies kept their composure magnificently with the Lion’s infringing at crucial times to hand Matt Burke opportunities at goal. The fullback did not disappoint and his unnerving accuracy under pressure won the match for the Wallabies. The Wallabies forwards, apart from the scrums dominated proceedings and their support of the ball carrier was beyond compare. The pressure was immense but both sides continued to carry the ball and the Wallabies produced magnificent phases to not only soak up time but also force the Lions to defend repeatedly. The strain eventually got to Charvis, he dove over a ruck and handed Burke an “easy” kick in terms of distance but unbelievable with the amount of pressure, he did not crumble, the Wallabies led 29-23 with three minutes left on the clock.
The Lions required a converted try to win and from the kick off applied great pressure to eventually force a lineout 5 meters out from the Australian line. Justin Harrison, once again poached a lineout ball with the crowd going absolutely ballistic in urging their teams to victory. The ensuing kick was not that much of a relief and the Lions had another opportunity on the 25, Dawson’s foolish break produced another turnover with Walker's clearance not going too far but wasting precious time. The Lions won the final lineout of the match and the next passage of play saw a frenzied attack from the Lions’ backs and furious defence from their counterparts to deny them a last grasp win. Paddy O’Brien, grateful for the hooter signaled the end of a momentous test match.
The emotion after the match was incredible; the dramatic finish left every spectator spellbound, the Wallabies deserved their victory and coach Rod Macqueen with John Eales orchestrated a magnificent series victory for the World Champions. The series will long be remembered as one of the best ever and a stunning advert for the game of rugby.
Moment of the match:    Justin Harrison's poaching of the Lion's lineout ball with three minutes left on the clock.
Men of the match:    Dan Herbert, Justin Harrison and George Gregan

After England had been humbled by the All Blacks in the World Cup Semi-Final - I don't know about us not having a Plan B when things went wrong, we looked like we didn't have a Plan A.    Geoff Cooke
Gareth Edwards: The sooner that little so-and-so goes to rugby league, the better it will be for us.    Dickie Jeeps
After a succession of career-threatening injuries - I played ten injury-free years between the ages of 12 and 22. Then, suddenly, it seemed like I was allergic to the twentieth century.    Nigel Melville
On playing for Wales at Lansdowne Road, Dublin  - I didn't know what was going on at the start in the swirling wind. The flags were all pointing in different directions and I thought the Irish had starched them just to fool us.    Mike Watkins

Test Teams
              Springboks All Blacks
Percy Montgommery         15 Jeff Wilson
Breyten Paulse         14 Doug Howlett
Marius Joubert         13 Tana Umaga
Robbie Fleck         12 Pita Alatini
Dean Hall         11 Jonah Lomu
Butch James         10 Tony Brown
Joost van der Westhuizen          9 Justin Marshall
Bob Skinstad (captain)
         8 Ron Cribb
Andre Venter          7 Taine Randell
Andre Vos          6 Reuben Thorne
Mark Andrews          5 Troy Flavell
Victor Matfield          4 Norm Maxwell
Cobus Visagie          3 Greg Somerville
Lukas van Biljon          2 Anton Oliver (captain)
Robbie Kempson          1 Carl Hoeft
Ollie Le Roux         16 Mark Hammett
John Smit         17 Carl Hayman
Johan Ackerman         18 Chris Jack
Johann van Niekerk         19 Marty Holah
Neil De Kock         20 Byron Kelleher
Deaon Kayser         21 Andrew Mehrtens
Conrad Jantjes         22 Leon MacDonald

 Springboks vs All Blacks Facts
  • There has been 56 tests, NZ lead by 27 to 26 wins with 3 drawn matches.
  • Christian Cullen has scored the most tries for NZ with 10 while Joost van der Westhuizen has scored 6 for SA.
  • The most points in a test for NZ is Carlos Spencer's 25 (Aukland 1997), for SA Jannie de Beer scored 22 (Johannesburg 1997).
  • The biggest NZ victory was 28-0 (Dunedin, 1999) while SA's biggest win was 17-0  (Durban 1928).
  • Ray Mordt is the only player from both countries to score a hat trick of tries in one match (Aukland 1981).
  • The most points in a test for NZ is 55 (Aukland 1997) with 46 for the Springboks (Johannesburg 2000).

Letters to the Editor

Dear Ed,


I have to disagree with some of the views expressed in your latest issue.


I agree with the dropping of Erasmus. He wants to  play as a wing, centre or even fly half. He unfortunately for him is justnot good enough to get selected in his preferred position. If he again tries to play as a flank perhaps he may make the squad or the team again. Till then I prefer proper three quarters of which we do have some.


To those who want old fashioned bruise and crush Sprinkbok forward rugby and decry the Brumbies I can only quote Naas and say that the most important thing to do is win. The Brumbies and Australia win and will continue to win with their new style of rugby. In case some don't know it the rules of rugby have changed dramatically in the last two years and the play and style has to change to be competitive under these. It is not possible to play the rugby the boks did in the fifties.


Without doubt however the Boks are in disarray and our selection decisions are almost as laughable as those made in 1974 when we played the Proper Lions and lost hopelessly. Despite trying to play old fashioned Bok rugby including with old warhorses pulled back from retirement for the purpose. Will we never learn?


Drop Kick


Dear Ed,
The time is here for Harry and his clowns, to deliver on all their promises and talk. They have run out of excuses, there is a new "dynamic" captain now, and it is time for results now, we are sick and tired to see the Boks not performing. We are working on a so-called "new" game plan whatever that is. Their excuses are getting old now we just want to see results, please Harry before you become public enemy number one.
SA rugby is slowly becoming a joke, we are unable to do the basic stuff right, like winning our own lineout ball, to dominate in the scrums, a loose trio that actually does some work and backs that are able to think on their feet, because when they do get the ball these days, they don't have the slightest idea what to do with it. They must just do all the basic things right, then and then alone, will they be a force in world rugby again.
Thanks Q. Cloete

Dear Ed,
I enjoy reading the letters from your readers and I question why is it that the majority of letters cover and state mainly the same reasons for the sorry state of Springbok rugby, yet the coach and some assistant coaches see things so differently to the avid rugby supporter. Maybe Andre Maakgraaf's resignation say's it all. Do the recent coaches and current Springbok coach together with SARFU view the South African rugby supporter as ignorant. 

I personally find it difficult to be a proud South African now a days due to the negative issues occurring in the country. Atleast with some of our international sporting teams and individuals achieving success on the international arena, this does keep that proud flame burning as we have experienced with " The Goose" and our national cricket side, despite the turmoil SA cricket endured last year. In my view rugby is lagging way behind cricket in every sense and SA rugby should take heed. I would rather pay R250 for a one day cricket test than spend that type of money to watch a mediocre test performance by the Springboks.
Unfortunately since the 1995 World Cup, Springbok rugby has encountered far more lows than highs in every sense of the game, be it on and off the field including boardroom politics. How much longer must the rugby supporting public be exposed to this disastrous state of affairs. South Africans like to win but not just to win by the score line but how we win in the performance stakes as this is what makes us really proud. The unfitting comment made by Joel Stransky after the second test win against France "a fantastic Springbok victory" which frankly was an uninspiring performance and the scoreline flatted the Boks. Naas Botha often makes the quote "all we want is the win" and this I am afraid is what Springbok rugby has come to. When the Springbok side loses which it will do there should be a knowing that the side performed at it's best and was beaten by a better side on the day, which still keeps us proud. In recent years and currently the Springbok losses have mainly been due to under and poor performance and the same can be said for many of the sides wins.
Just to end I happened to be in Australia and New Zealand in 1999 over the Super 12 period and attended some of the Cats and Shark games. On the way over I was on the same plane as the Cats squad and it was great to be able to speak to some of the humble players on the stop over in Perth and even those with their broken English made conversation. Then last year when the Springboks played the Wallaby's and All Blacks in the Tri Nations I was on the same flight to Sydney as the Springboks. I was amazed at what a bunch of glamour boys we have in the Springbok squad and in particular the boys from "the mountain". Where are all those rugged rugby players that Springbok rugby was known for (except for Naas) and which alone put the fear into the opposition including the mighty All Blacks.
PS. No disrespect to Naas Botha but he would have fitted in well in the current Springbok team as one of the many glamour boys and naturally would have had to live under the shadow of "the mountain".

Dear Ed,
Please can Rugby Forum and their contributors take a positive line on life!   Harry Viljoen doesn't have to prove anything!   Three teams to four finals in four years is something few has achieved.   And if you add the fact that he has succeeded in business, then surely you have to realise he knows something.

First the lions beat the wallabies, and then the lions lose to the wallaby’s -bigtime.  What does it teach us? That the southern or northern hemisphere is on top?   No, just that a game depends on many, many things and circumstances during a game, simply because it's played by emotional, erring, flawed humans.  Harry got rid of a  'manager' and appointed a leader as captain of the Boks.  Harry got rid of a surly, racist, repressed thinker who never admitted a mistake while he coached the cats.   And he got rid of Erasmus just in time.  Go ask mains about that!  Something else, new cap van Meeker is classy, and he’s older than George Smith, the best loose in the super 12!   And please don't mention these one off results as the total truth.   The total truth is recreated week after week, depending on the circumstances.    Manchester United recently lost 4 games in a row  - rugby forum would probably have asked for Alex Ferguson’s head!    The Boks will never again have a better than 50% result against the All Blacks and Wallabies.   They’re professional now, and   planning our downfall daily.   Gone is the day when the South Africans had the advantage on them through shamateurism - because that’s exactly what it was in the good old days when the Boks were loaded with players from Maties, Tukkies, police and defence force.  So be grateful that we have a coach who wants to improve our game.  Frankly, the Brumbies / Sharks final was embarrassing for South Africans.  Can you recall what Eddie Jones predicted at halftime?   So lets leave Rudolph out of our plans.   The Currie Cup was one too far for him too.   Sixty percent possession, and the sharks still lose it?    And as for mallett, his record against the best speaks for itself, bearing in mind that we’ll never again have the ascendancy in the new professional world.  For heavens sake, the eagles beating the bulls, border beating WP at Newlands!    It’s a different world now, and it seems only Harry knows it.   Bobby’s choice was a masterstroke; we now have an inspirational leader that will make me proud, even when I’m at Twickenham or Eden Park.   Harry said it so well today -” when I make a change, I’m impulsive, even when I’ve pondered about it for weeks! " 
Rugby Forum is playing to the masses for cheap approval- please get us comments from the likes of Morne du Plessis, Dave Stewart, Ian Mac, John Robbie and Nic Mallett.   Or go watch a video of the 1997 WP/Bulls match.   We need inspirational coaches, not John Williams ‘sagmaak voor hard slaan agter‘ clones!
Gerrit Botha

Dear Ed,
I'm an Afrikaans speaking South African living in Auckland New Zealand for the past 5 years receiving Rugby Forum regularly.  Not easy living here when you're a Bok Supporter but be assured,  we don't stand back at all!  When we win we rub it in very well and when we loose we take it like men and don't sulk on it for weeks to come like some do!
First I wish to congratulate you on your excellent comments regarding the present state of Springbok Rugby. I'm speechless regarding......... "Now, for those readers from foreign shores who do not have an inkling of
what I am talking about, do not feel alone or isolated as a matter of fact you are better off than what we are! Here goes, Johan Erasmus, flank extraordinaire was dropped to gain weight or brush up on his science, it is not quite clear which and replaced by a 20-year-old uncapped, untried, unknown player called, sorry forgot his name. André Markgraaff resigned from his position as assistant coach to benefit SA rugby on a grander scale. Now you know it all... well almost!"  How true this is!
Myself, as a very "die hard" Springbok supporter, defending the Bok with my life basically here in "AB, one-eyed, cry babies, blaming all others for their defeats, untouchable by refs, food poisoning freaks country"(think I made my point!)  do not have the slightest doubt in my mind that the Springboks will be slaughtered in the upcoming Tri Nations.  Its obvious, the writings on the wall.  Got to be!  With a couch and management like that,  what else do you expect? I'm ready for the worst!
The team picked by Chris Erasmus is AWESOME mate AWESOME!!
15.   Tinus Delport
14.    Frederich Lombard
13.    André Snyman
12.    Trevor Halstead
11.    Breten Paulse
10.    Gaffie du Toit
9.     Graig Davidson
8.      Albert v d Berg
7.      A Venter
6.      J Erasmus
5.      Mark Andrews (K)
4.      J Ackerman
3.      W Meyer
2.      John Smit
1.      R Kempson
B Skinstad
A Vos
O le Roux
G Esterhuizen
Janus Labuschagne
Deon Keyser
This team will make the All Blacks cry (not that they ever stopped) and blame us for food poisoning again!  Not to mention the Aussies mate, they'll blame the ref again! Their TV commentators have the ability to commentate on poor AB and Aussie performances like it will be the best rugby you'll ever see.
Just a question - why doesn't the Springbok supporters in SA stand up and be counted? The hell with Harry and Co. and Sarfu for that matter.  Get rid of Harry guys,  get rid of him otherwise some serious bad times are lying ahead.  Mark my words.
Rugby Forum Week 20 was the best one thus far.
Cheers from a Springbok supporter.

Briewe en Opinies in Afrikaans 

Die All Blacks is in die land, vergeet van die Leeus, die Wallabies en die Ses Nasies, die grootste wedywering in rugby is tussen die Springbokke en die manne van die Silwer Varing. Ja, dié naweek begin die 2001 Drie Nasies kompetisie met 'n kragmeting tussen die ou vyande, histories die beste in wêreld rugby, op Nuweland.

Die van julle wat al gelukkig genoeg was om 'n wedstryd tussen die twee bulspanne by te gewoon het sal getuig van die bol senuwees in jou maag voor en tydens die wedstryd en dit is a toeskouer. Vir enige Springbok is 'n toets teen die All Blacks 'n getuigskrif van ware mededinging en daarmee kom die kennis waarvoor Springbok rugby eintlik staan. Die vorige ontmoeting was een van die beste wedstryde in 'n lang geskiedenis van klipharde, ongenadelose rugby. Nic Mallett se span, onder intense druk van die toeskouers en adminastrateurs, het te danke aan 'n wonder-wedstryd van Robbie Fleck en 'n prag-drie van Thinus Delport die All Blacks naelskraaps op Ellis Park met 46-40 geklop. Die vreugdevure het daardie dag hoog gebrand en daar was op lange laas weer hoop na 'n benarde seisoen wat begin het met 'n lelike verloorslag teen Engeland.

'n Mens kan seker vergewe word as daar 'n paralel getrek word tussen die huidige posisie en verlede jaar, weer-eens het die jaar begin met 'n gelykop-reeks teen 'n Ses Nasies span die verskil is egter dat vir die eerste keer in die kort geskiedenis van die Drie Nasies toer die Springbokke na 'n tuisrondte. Die eerste indruk is dat dit die Springbokke moet bevoordeel, die druk is alreeds ongelooflik hoog op 'n span wat om die minste te sê "'n paar probleempies" gehad het. Die beste nuus die hele week was die gebrek daaraan, waarvoor ek verlede week so naarstigtelik gepleit het. Die beseringspook het reeds sy opwagting gemaak en Corné Krige van 'n kans beroof, die man het darem erg ongeluk teen die All Blacks! Hopelik is dit die enigste besering en dat Harry volle baat kon vind uit twee weke se voorbereiding met 'n toets kombinasie.

Die verskeie doenighede in die Springbok-kamp die afgelope twee weke sal een van twee uitwerkings hê, die manne sal saam staan en 'n fantastiese vertoning lewer of die wiele sal heeltemal afval. Verlede jaar se vertoning en 'n kern van ervaring in Mark Andrews en Joost gee my hoop dat ons 'n besondere vertoning sal sien van 'n span wat weet hulle skuld almal en mees belangrik hulleself 'n goeie poging. Helaas, die weer mag dalk die grootste invloed hê op beide spanne se spel en hopelik kan Kaapstad 'n droë dag beleef vir een van die belangrikste wedstryde in heugenis.

Saterdag het ons geskiedenis mee gemaak, die Leeus het vir die eerste keer 'n reeks in Austalië verloor na 'n klipharde stryd tussen die spanne. Die wedstryd was ongelooflik tens en wat my veral bygeval het was dat foute amper onmiddelik met punte gestraf is, die tipe druk kan net geskep word in finale van kompetisies en in toetse. Die Super 12 en Drie Nasies het miskien een swak punt en dit is dat spanne kan wegstap met bonuspunte as hulle net-net verloor en dit bring mee dat hulle nog steeds in gedrang bly. Toetsrugby soos in 'n drie wedstryd reeks waar trots en eer, wen of verloor op die spel is, is beslis nog die ware Jakob en ek sal selfs so ver gaan om 'n analogie met krieket te vorm, die vyfdag teenoor die eendag weergawe. Ware connoisseur's gereg in vergelyking met kitskos.

Die Wallabies het baie goed gedoen om die Leeus in die finale minute te stuit, die lynstaan rower, Justin Harrison het seker die belangrikste bal in sy loopbaan gewen om die Leeus hulle uiters effektiewe rolmaal beweging te verhoed. 'n Wel verdiende reeks oorwinning moes Harry Viljoen seker ook 'n groot slaak van verligting laat sluk het want die Wallabies het bewys dat hulle spelstyl die toets van een van die beter Leeus spanne nog deurstaan het.

Die naweek is daar slegs een fokus en dit is Nuweland, sterkte aan Harry Viljoen en sy span, om 17:00 sal die hele nasie agter julle staan. Dade en slegs dade sal antwoorde verskaf, woorde en beloftes het hulle glans verloor.



Beste Red

Ek gaan nou sommer reguit wees ek dink die hele rugby publiek en al die spelers is al lekker gatvol vir Harry en dit incl. my hy moet nie eens `n onder nege span afrig nie ons sit met al die talent in die werêld en dan neek hy dit so op hier is my bok span
10.B.van Straaten
9.J. van der Westhuizen
4.A.van den Berg
2.L. von Biljoen
17.O.Le Roux
22.G.Du Toit
Harry moet gerus sê as hy wil bedank ek sal met graagte sy werk oorvat en dit vir `n slag weer met brein krag doen ek is `n lions en cats supporter en julle kan maar self besluit of ek gediskrimmineer het







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